Dave Perry Leaves Us Laughing… and Better Sailors

Dave Perry sketches the options for a mark rounding during the October AYC meeting. Photo: Mike Ferring

The most critical times of any race are when bunches of boats compete for the same bit of water at the same time: during starts and mark roundings. So here’s Dave Perry’s prescription:

  1. Build space to leeward at the start line so you can accelerate at the gun.
  2. Don’t get caught in the bad-air parade at the windward mark.
  3. Take your turn at the leeward mark.

Okay, there was a bit more to it in the space of more than two hours this hall-of-fame sailor spent moving magnetic boats around a white board and showing video of boats converging. I hope you were there. This was a meeting packed with tips and hints for anyone who races and a meeting full of fun for anyone who doesn’t.

Dave Perry entertaining the October AYC meeting. Photo: Bob Whyte

Before the meeting, Dave waved off the wireless microphone. “I don’t use those,” he said seriously and it was immediately obvious that he knew what he was talking about as his voice boomed through the Caddy Shack. He drew in the crowd by asking people to stand who drove Buccs and Thistles and Catalina 22s and so on and asking who drove and who crewed and then urging the crew members to yell back at their drivers in return for all those times the crew gets blamed for poor finishes that are usually the fault of the person holding tiller. We loved it of course.

For a two-minute snippet of Dave’s talk, click here to see a YouTube video recorded by Rear Commodore Bob Whyte.

Dave’s visit to Phoenix (his first ever) was part of the US Sailing Speakers Series and included Scotch tasting by sponsor Old Pulteney. He made this stop on his way from San Francisco to his home in Connecticut after working with Artemis Racing at the America’s Cup AC45 World Series. He advises the team on rules, which are still evolving to match the unbelievable performance of the boats.

After riding on the back of one of the 45s, what did he think? “Scared,” he said. And with the 72-footers pushing the boundaries of sailing, he says no one’s quite sure what will happen. The teams planned to have sailed the first copy of the new boats about 15 days by now, he said, but only Team New Zealand has had more than a few days on the water and all of the teams have come limping back with broken bits on the boats. Artemis broke its wing when trying it out on a trimaran. Hang on. This could be nuts.

Fun fact: At Yale, Dave roomed with Peter Isler and navigation ace and “the man who invented football’s first-down yellow line,” Stan Honey. All have gone on to fame and glory. Two of the three have spoken to AYC within the last year. Can Stan Honey make it three-some? Stay tuned.

A large crowd laughed through two hours of Dave Perry’s presentation. Photo: Mike Ferring